LINCOLN — Kim Hawekotte, an attorney with extensive experience in child welfare issues, has been named director of Nebraska's revamped Foster Care Review Office.
She will start Jan. 22, according to Craig Timm, chairman of the office's Advisory Committee.
The Foster Care Review Office is an independent state agency charged with being a watchdog over the foster care system.
It has a network of local volunteer boards to review cases of children removed from their homes by the State Department of Health and Human Services.
Hawekotte has a 30-year history of working with the state's child welfare and juvenile justice system.
Her experience includes representing youths and parents as an attorney and serving as a guardian ad litem.
She was deputy chief of the Douglas County Attorney's juvenile division, headed up the state's juvenile services office within HHS and led Omaha's Building Bright Futures initiative on an anti-truancy effort.
Most recently, she has been president of KVC Behavioral Healthcare of Nebraska.
The Kansas-based KVC was one of the private organizations that contracted to manage child welfare cases for the state. KVC's case management contract ended in February after KVC said it could not continue subsidizing the contract.
However, the organization has continued to provide foster care and other services in the state.
The Foster Care Review Office replaced the Foster Care Review Board on July 1.
The Nebraska Legislature revamped the agency this spring after lawmakers complained that some review board members had conflicts of interest and were squelching the flow of information.
A new advisory board was created for the new agency. Board members include Timm, Sandy Kruback, Michelle Hynes, Elizabeth Neeley and Sheree Keely.
Hawekotte is the first permanent head of the agency since the former board fired 29-year Director Carol Stitt one year ago. Hawekotte's salary was not immediately available.
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